Jake Ziegler Ray Pierce car river Catawba County Bandys High - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Spokesperson: Missing Catawba Co. teens drowned in SC river


The autopsy for two missing North Carolina teens found in a submerged car in the Wateree River near a South Carolina interstate is revealing new information.

Family spokesperson, Kevin Ryan, says Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers told the family that the teens' cause of death was died from asphyxia due to drowning.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said the tag found Sunday on a bumper near the Wateree River, matches the car being driven by two missing teenagers from his area.

A Facebook page dedicated to finding the missing teens also said the bodies found inside the car were the missing teens.

""We are sadden to say that the bodies of Jake Ziegler 18, & Ray Pierce have been found approximately an hour ago," the page posted at 8"35 p.m. on Sunday night. "Search crews along the Wateree River found the bumper of the car off of I20 East near the 96 mile marker."

Troopers believe the car went off the left side of the road narrowly missing a guardrail, down a steep embankment and came to a stop in the river. Our Raycom News Partner on the scene says there are tire tracks leading from I-20 down the embankment. Investigators were out on the scene again Monday.

According to the family spokesman, it appeared to be a very nasty wreck.

The boys were found by volunteer searchers from the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons out of Wilmington, NC.  CUE volunteers alerted authorities to a vehicle upside down in the river around 4:20 Sunday afternoon.

The teens families filed a report with the CUE Center on October 14, the day after the teens first went missing. The director of the CUE Center says the organization worked with local law enforcement agencies and searched for two weeks straight, from Charlotte area down to Myrtle Beach.

Dwayne Baker was one of the searchers in the group that led investigators to the car. "One of them (searchers) said, there's the bumper. We rolled it over and saw the license plate and I told everybody to get out," Baker said Monday.

Baker was helping in the search after his own son went missing in Catawba County 4 years ago. Investigators found his son's remains 2 years ago. Travis Baker had been murdered.

Investigators say the boys left a party October 13th and told friends they were driving to the beach. A text sent by one of the boys showed a map to the beach and a highlighted route that would've taken them right by the spot their car was discovered.

Investigators say the last sign of the boys came from a ping off one of their cell phones that night along I-77 in South Carolina. Crews have searched up and down the interstate and in Myrtle Beach.

The friends attended Bandys High School. Monday, students there painted a spirit rock in front of the school in honor of the two teens. Students told WBTV they are trying to plan an informal memorial sometime in the next few days.

Their families have spoken consistently with WBTV about their search efforts. They said they always had hope, but prepared for the worst.

Hundreds of volunteers and members of law enforcement have helped in the search effort.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved. 

Sidebar: Jake and Ray


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